Casablanca located in the central-western part of Morocco bordering the Atlantic Ocean, is the largest city in Morocco. It is also the largest city in the Maghreb, as well as one of the largest and most important cities in Africa, both economically and demographically.
Casablanca is Morocco’s chief port and one of the largest financial centers on the continent. According to the 2014 population estimate, the city has a population of about 3.35 million in the urban area and over 6.8 million in the Casablanca-Settat region. Casablanca is considered the economic and business center of Morocco, although the national political capital is Rabat.
The leading Moroccan companies and international corporations doing business in the country have their headquarters and main industrial facilities in Casablanca. Recent industrial statistics show Casablanca retains its historical position as the main industrial zone of the country. The Port of Casablanca is one of the largest artificial ports in the world, and the second largest port of North Africa, after Tanger-Med 40 km east of Tangier. Casablanca also hosts the primary naval base for the Royal Moroccan Navy.
The original name of Casablanca was Anfa, in Berber language, by at least the seventh century BC. After the Portuguese took control of the city in the 15th century AD, they rebuilt it, changing the name to Casa Branca. It derives from the Portuguese word combination meaning “White House” (branca “white”, casa “house”). The present name, which is the Spanish version (pronounced [kasaˈβlaŋka]), came when the Portuguese kingdom was integrated in personal union to the Spanish kingdom. During the French protectorate in Morocco, the name remained Casablanca (pronounced [kɑzɑblɑ̃kɑ]). In 1755 an earthquake destroyed most of the town. It was rebuilt by the Sultan who changed the name into the local Arabic which is Ad-dar Al Baidaa’, although Arabic also has its own version of Casablanca (كازابلانكا, Kāzāblānkā). The city is still nicknamed Casa by many locals and outsiders to the city. In many other cities with a different dialect, it is called Ad-dar Al-Bida, instead.
A famous boulevard inside Casablanca City is called “Anfa Boulevard”. Anfa is generally considered the early “old original city” of Casablanca; it is legally a prefecture (district) with half a million city inhabitants.
Things To Visit In Casablanca
Hassan II Mosque
Completed in 1993 and located on a platform overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the iconic Hassan II Mosque is the second-largest mosque in the world, and one of few open to non-Muslims (through selected guided tour opportunities lasting around an hour each). The mosque, which can accommodate up to 25,000 worshipers, offers Muslims the chance to pray on a glass floor, giving the unique feeling of praying directly over the sea. Everyone is welcome to admire the beautiful piece of architecture at any time from the spacious courtyard, which alone can accommodate a further 80,000 people.
Located in the same region as Hassan II Mosque, La Corniche is a beach front district offering an array of dining experiences as well as pools and beach access. On a hot day, the area can be found brimming with surfers, swimmers and sunbathers, offering a less traditional and a more holiday-escape side of Morocco. La Corniche offers an area full of entertainment, and the chance to go on a refreshing walk on the beach, or even a dip in the sea if you’re feeling daring.
Place Mohammed V
A visit to the administrative hub of Casablanca, the Place Mohammed V is a chance to experience first-hand the work of architect Henri Prost. Surrounded by public buildings which set the scene for further buildings throughout Morocco, including law courts, the square also hosts the statue of Marshal Lyautey, the first French Resident-General in Morocco from 1912 to 1925. In addition to this monumental statue, the square features a grand fountain dating back to 1976 which, at certain times of the day, hosts a music accompanied water show.
Located near the new medina is yet another one of the King’s palaces. The King has a palace in almost every city just in case of a royal visit. The King’s Palace in Casablanca is just as grand as the rest of them, with its enormous open square at the front, a surplus of guards, and a grand exterior which anyone can enjoy. Unfortunately any closer access seems difficult to come by, however it’s worth it just to see from the outside and admire the architecture.